Sayali Bhagat rose to prominence after winning the Miss India contest in 2004. She has been in Bollywood films such as The Train, starring Emran Hashmi and Geeta Basra, Good Luck, Halla Bol, and Rajdhani Express, as well as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, English and Punjabi films. She has now embarked on her new venture.
The ‘Dreamers are Achievers’ fashion show, which she hosted in collaboration with Skylark Infra Engineering, is a celebration of six inspiring women, accompanied by their mentors from Nigeria and South Africa, hailing from small towns and villages in Africa and their journey as role models for all dreamers.
Last week in Delhi, she hosted Angela Malenga, Beauty Katebe, Doris Couvaras, Faith Kachenga, Mukonko, and Mwila Masongo, who were the winners of the My Home Town pageant – Zambia, a personality contest held by the nonprofit organisation My Home Town.
In an interview with Patriot Bhagat opens up on her journey, upcoming projects and her love for Delhi’s street Food
Regarding the transition from being a model to becoming Miss India, an actor, and now an entrepreneur, Bhagat said, “The journey has been fantastic. Growing up, I never imagined that I would become all of those things; my only desire was to become Miss India. I remember writing an essay in the seventh grade wanting to be Miss India, so that was the only thing I was sure about. Everything else came around unexpectedly.”
“I’m really appreciative of the path and my family’s support. They’ve always been very supportive, not just my parents but my husband as well. All of this has made me who I am today and that has enabled me to be in a position to support other women and speak about their experiences,” she said.
Supporting and inspiring other women
Bhagat goes on to share how organising the event was no easy task. “I’ve never done anything like that and there are a lot of problems that keep me going that we as women should stand up and celebrate their victories so that their stories don’t go unheard,” she said.
“I believe hard work and talent should be the only things that matter, a belief I have developed and embodied throughout my own career. Hence, it brings me great joy and pride to play a role in the journey of these incredible women and the hard work they have put in to get where they are today. I am extremely passionate about helping inspire, support, and guide women from all walks of life in achieving success, and enabling them to receive the accessibility and resources required to make that possible,” she added.
“This was a very unique experience where we had six winners of a beauty pageant called ‘My Home Town’. Three of them were beauty queens, and three of them were social activists joined by Chika Ike, a film director and actress from Nigeria, and Pearl Thusi, a distinguished film director and actress from South Africa, and both of these women are accomplished actors and producers who came to cheer up for the six models. So it was a very beautiful amalgamation of girls from African continents. What made it extremely important for us to tell this story is that people from Africa, which as a continent, is still developing, so if women from Africa can gain financial independence and make a name for themselves, so can we,” explained Bhagat.
On the possibility of switching back to acting, she said, “I’ve always tried to stay in the present moment and right now I’m really enjoying the role that I’m having right now and would like to continue doing so and help tell some more inspiring stories. There are no such plans for going back to acting but if something great comes up then we’ll see.”
“The reception of the event was great and not just from the film and modeling fraternity but a lot of other people as well, a lot of people came to help us out throughout the event. The Winners also participated in relief and charity work at a local NGO/shelter which was met with great warmth and love. Our ladies also visited schools in DWelhi inspiring the youth of our country and I personally feel we’ve accomplished what we wanted to do and even if we can inspire even one person to chase out there dream that would be great,” she said.
Speaking on what has changed in the film industry, Bhagat said, “I believe that people are now willing to accept diverse themes. OTT has become a lot popular. Different stories are being told. I’ve always wanted to have several ideas in mind, and now that I believe there will be an audience for them, which wasn’t the case earlier, I want to develop them. I’ve always wanted to tell stories that depict women in a positive light and tell out their perceptions. It is relevant to today’s thought process. Seeing the outlook towards women today makes me really sad.”
Expressing her love for the capital, she said, “It always feels great to be in Delhi. I love being here. There are a lot of iconic places which we went to on the last day of the event. But the thing that stands out for me in Delhi is the street food. It is the best whenever I come to Delhi. It’s the first thing on my agenda to try out different cuisines.”